This week’s round-up includes the return of one of the most addictive contemporary TV shows; House of Cards, a challenger to that show’s title in the form of True Detective, a documentary about the private lives of webcam girls, a solid animated Batman adaptation and a stylish Hong Kong noir film.
House of Cards (season two)
Following the critical and commercial success of season one of Netflix’s original series House of Cards, it was inevitable that it would be renewed for a second season (and now it’s actually been renewed for a third season too). The show has also seen its first breakout cast member in Kate Mara (she’s back again as a main cast member), who is rumoured to be playing Invisible Girl in The Fantastic Four reboot. Season two began last Friday, and may have ruined a lot of relationships as binge watchers probably forgot about Valentine’s Day in the process. The new season kicks off where the previous one left off and concerns themes as varied as Chinese cyber-espionage, anthrax scares, parliamentary procedure, and government shutdowns. And, as always, acting powerhouse Kevin Spacey is back as Vice President Francis Underwood. Better kiss the weekend goodbye then.
Sky customers can watch programmes on demand on a number of electronic devices via the Sky Go app, and one of the best reasons to do so is Sky Atlantic. The channel offers exclusive access to original content by American cable channel HBO. Currently, the HBO show that is causing the most debate and discourse online is True Detective, a gritty crime drama set over several years and multiple timelines in the US state of Louisiana. The show stars Matthew McConaughey, who’s currently generating a lot of awards buzz for his role in the film Dallas Buyers Club (yeh, he’s a serious actor now so it’s okay to like him) and Woody Harrelson (everyone loves Woody, right?). Not to let the stars overshadow the show, True Detective has been praised for everything from its script to its cinematography and has quickly gone from a promising new series to must-watch TV.
Johnny To has built a name for himself as a revered director of stylish Hong kong noir films and his latest is no exception. The title Drug War seems pretty self explanatory – a bit too obvious if you ask me – but worry not, because what lies within is a complex undercover police procedural drama with To’s stylish blend of brooding machismo and action-packed set pieces. If you like Michael Mann’s crime epics you will love Drug War. The film has been unanimously praised, and even made it on to some critics’ best-of lists for last year. To’s exposure beyond his domestic market has been limited – partly due to the surprising fact that Hollywood has yet to remake any of his films. Therefore, you should watch Drug War and let yourself in on world cinema’s best kept secret.
The Dark Knight Returns (parts 1 & 2)
Not to be confused with Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, this two-part animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s seminal comic book arc is now available to view on Amazon LoveFilm. It should be of particular interest to fans of the character and those eagerly awaiting the new Superman vs Batman film (due 2016). Zack Snyder’s follow-up to his hugely successful Superman reboot Man of Steel will bring both titans of the DC universe together for the first time, by way of Frank Miller’s narrative. Snyder himself revealed at comic -Con last year that it was Miller’s original work that allowed Batman vs Superman to be made. The animated adaptation itself has been praised for its voice work, with some commentators claiming that it gets across Miller’s vision even better than the comic did (although i’m not sure how that’s possible). So all the ‘Batfleck’ naysayers and supporters should brush up on The Dark Knight Returns (especially if you can’t be bothered to read the graphic novel) before furiously debating the issue online again.
The Truth About Webcam Girls
BBC Three’s original programming can be hit and miss – particularly the reality TV shows and documentaries it produces. The Truth About Webcam Girls, however, explores a relevant subject from the point-of-view of the women involved in it. According to the documentary, thousands of women across the UK work as online webcam models, charging customers per minute to watch them. The women in question are supposedly a varied bunch – ranging from 18 to 80 year olds – but this doc focusses on a trio of twenty-something glamour models. Although most users ask the girls to re-enact their fantasies, some just indulge their most trivial viewing habits – one scenario involved a user watching one of the girl’s play Xbox (someone should have told that guy about Twitch TV). The Truth About Webcam Girls ultimately falls short of providing a multifaceted portrait of the webcam industry in the UK, but it is nonetheless a fascinating insight in to the world of unorthodox online relationships.